Bedtime Stress Busters for Kids
Children as young as three years old experience stress of varying degrees. Regardless of the cause of stress, it is a very real experience for kids and it quite often feels most overwhelming at bedtime. To help kids relax and hopefully guarantee a good night’s sleep try some of these tips.
Consistent Bedtime Rituals and Routines
Remind kids to follow their usual bedtime routine and offer them some ideas of how to relax. For older kids, it may be to shower at night so they have more time in the morning to finish their work. For younger children it may be necessary to extend part of their bedtime ritual, such as a massage, to help them feel relaxed.
If it is impossible for a child to shut down her mind, provide a piece of paper and a pen so she can write down her to-do list or even a general description of what is on her mind. This exercise lets all the thoughts be recorded somewhere so the mind does not have to keep running over things and preventing a night of restful sleep.
Conscious breathing is the best thing kids can be taught to do to help control anxiety any time, anywhere. At bedtime, it can be particularly relaxing for a child to learn to breathe from her belly. By concentrating on breathing in one part of the body, the mind becomes focused and the breath relieves tension throughout the body. If the child needs a more challenging breathing exercise, ask her to picture the inside of her body as full of warm red air and she is surrounded by cooling blue air. Coach her to breathe the blue air in through their nose and expel the red air out of her mouth. Have her continue this manner of breathing until she visualizes herself filled with blue air.
A Constant Friend
Providing your child a “Friend” to snuggle up with every night helps calm fears. Some may choose a security blanket, an old t-shirt, or a favorite stuffed animal. My daughter chooses all of the above. She keeps one of my husband’s old shirts beside her at night, a special blanket, and her Moosh-Moosh friends. She has already told me she wants to cover her entire room with Moosh-Moosh friends.
Moosh-Moosh pillows are cute, soft and squishy plushies that come in 3 sizes- small, medium and large. They can be used as a bedtime buddy, a cuddle buddy, and a pillow pal. There are over 30 plushies to choose from including Buttons the Bunny, Bandit the Fox, Dot the Ladybug and Crush the Shark.
Moosh-Moosh friends are made with 100% polyester, making them incredibly soft and squishy! They are high quality, too. My daughter has been sleeping with her every single night for the last 7 months, PLUS, she totes them around everywhere she goes. They still look and feel brand new!
Once in bed, ask the child to focus on one part of the body at a time to relax it. For example, ask her to stretch out the baby toe on her left foot and then let it relax. Do the same for each toe on the left foot and then move to the right foot. Move up to the left leg and then the right, concentrating individually on the shins, calves, knee caps and thighs. Work through the torso, arms and upper body, focusing on both the front and back of the body. Do the shoulders neck and different parts of the face, finishing with the top of the head.
Some children might like having a dream shared with them, particularly those who experience nightmares. Think of a small scenario in which the child plays the main role and describe the “dream”. This gives them a positive image to have in mind as they drift off to sleep.
As every child experiences stress differently, it is important to help kids find ways of coping with their individual anxiety. Talk to kids about what might work for easing their worries and make a point of practicing the technique with them. A parent’s reassurance that everything will be alright may be the biggest stress buster of all.